Resilience in sports and business part 2

Published by QoQ Business Psychologists
on July 30, 2020


In my previous post, I talked about knowing what one's triggers are as these were important factors to consider when reviewing one's environment, be it work or home. It is also important to recognise and understand what kind of environment is required for one to perform at their best, thus giving the ability to thrive under pressure.

How does the mind process stress?

From our caveman days our brains are hardwired to sense danger. This comes from the amygdala. The oldest part of the brain. This activates our 'fight or flight' response.' Hence the reactions of an athlete such as John McEnroe when things did not go his way at crucial moments of the game. Of course one might say it was all for show, but not initially I don't believe. Within work, we have all received those cutthroat one line emails which you have no idea why this person sent you such an email. Unbeknown to you other things pressures with be rocking their world and you just happened to email at the wrong time.

All of these responses scientists have found to be innate. HOWEVER, there is something you can do about it... and this is why our cortexes were formed.

What does the cortex control?

Our cortex is the reasoning part of the brain and the part we need to engage quicker when we are aware of our amygdala kicking in. The good news here is this is something we can learn! The trick is for individuals to find out what works for them especially as each person has a unique predisposition to react to differing pressure in certain ways. These reactions are based on personality and past experiences. It is a result of these predispositions which determine whether our response if one of 'positive pressure' or negative stress.'

Furthermore, resilience is dual-faceted; by this, I mean that it is about reacting in the moment and proactively setting yourself up for success in the long-term. It is these two areas I work on with my clients to help them cope with the pressure is on.

An example of a reactive approach was when I was working with a CEO who was under incredible pressure. His company was not performing, and part of the reason was him. His team had stopped communicating to him, they became almost scared because they did not know how he was going to react. One of the things I did to stop him from sending that angry email or verbal outbursts was to each morning ask him to write out a number of difficult maths equations and stick them to his computer and iPhone. When he felt his fight response kicking in he had to complete one of the math questions before he responded, by which time this cortex had kicked in and his responses were far more reasonable than before. It only took him 2 weeks to learn this skill before he didn't need anymore posit notes with long numbers on! It was he who chose the math because he has a love of numbers.

Proactive resilience takes time and requires one to look at:

How do you increase Resilience?

1. Emotional control as it is your emotions which determine your success. You need to control them not them control you.

2. Become extremely self-aware. Understand and identify the best course of action by reflecting on past experiences and where you want to get to with the resources you have available. Goal setting.

3. One's ability to focus. This is a key determinant of success under pressure. For example, Olympic medalists attribute their achievement to their ability to maintain focus when it counts. As Nike says, 'make it count.'

At QoQ resilience is a topic close to our hearts. Science tells us that the more resilient we are the less likely we will suffer from negative stress and mental health issues. We work with a number of Senior leaders and athletes who don't feel that they are resilient as others. Very often this is not the case they just need some tools to pull out at crucial moments. Helping people achieve great things when they never thought they could because they were so overwhelmed is what drives QoQ to be better at what we do. However, it must be acknowledged that asking for help with one's mental health is an extremely very brave step and one we very much commend at QoQ.


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Published by QoQ Business Psychologists
on July 30, 2020

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